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Small victories, large defeats.



Updated: 2017-02-26T08:00:02-05:00

 



How to Vote for the Phillies Wall of Fame

2017-02-26T08:00:02-05:00

Even though we are only in the nominee phase, let’s make sure we get this right The Phillies this past week unveiled their nominees for the Wall of Fame induction ceremony this coming August (you can vote here). At this point, they are merely looking to secure five “official” nominees from a list of ten to put on a ballot that will be used by the fans. Once the season begins, we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty of parsing through the candidates to determine which former great will get to have his face emblazoned on a plaque that the average fan can stare out before being shooed away by security before a game begins. I would list the ten players that are officially nominees, but as wonderful a career as they had, guys like Gene Garber are not getting into the Wall of Fame this year. This ballot basically comes down to two players, with one very clear option to choose from. Now before I let you know who those two players are that will duke it out over the summer, let me present you with a chart. This is something that will compare these two players in their tenure here as Phillies. It’s, uh, well....it’s a bit of a mismatch. See, I told you. While the plate appearances disparity is rather large, it’s close enough that we can safely compare apples to apples. You can see that Player A was a clearly better player during his time in Philadelphia, while Player B seems to have barely made a dent. Even though WAR is a flawed measurement, a 28 point difference shows that the two players really weren’t close. Who are these mystery players, you ask? Player A is Scott Rolen.Player B is Pete Rose. The more astute Phillies fans already knows how good of a player Rolen was while he was here, but when we stop and consider him for the esteemed Wall of Fame, we can reflect on just how good of a player he actually was while wearing the red pinstripes. When he arrived, Rolen was instantly the best player on a moribund team. Thanks to an injury in 1996 that prevented him from accumulating the required at bats necessary to lose his rookie status, he was able to field and hit his way to a stellar 1997 season (.283/.377/.469 with 21 HR and a 121 OPS+) that led to his claiming the Rookie of the Year award. From there, he would go on to post OPS+ marks in the 120’s and higher, making him the hands down best player in South Philadelphia during his time period. His above average offense and stellar defense created a mainstay in the Phillies lineup that they had been missing since the days of Daulton and Kruk. Alas, contract squabbles and discontent led to his ouster from the town for Placido Polanco and a few throw ins that never amounted to anything. He turned down a 10 year, $140 million contract to basically be a Phillie for life due to a lack of faith in management’s desire to win, leading to his relocating to the greatest baseball city in the country (unless you disagree with the fans, in which case you need to “stick to baseball”, right Dexter?). He would go on to win a World Series in St. Louis in 2006 before his career became a steady stroll to the disabled list for a litany of injuries that derailed his express train ride to Cooperstown. The other player fans can decide on for the honor is Pete Rose. This season, the team has finally gained permission from the commissioner’s office to put Rose up for consideration for election to the team’s Wall of Fame. This will obviously tug at many heart strings of older Phillies’ fans who feel Rose should be in the MLB Hall of Fame, and will cause them to lead with their hearts instead of their heads. After all, we’ve already been subjected to pieces about how Rose is the greatest free agent signing in team history, and with that come trips down memory lane about how Rose led the team to victory that had eluded them for nearly 100 years. Rose was an important part of the 1980 championship roster, one that many players on that squad point to as the leader of the team and one that put them over the top. However, I urge you readers, resist. If the election to th[...]



Maikel Franco hit an inside the park home run no this is not a drill

2017-02-25T22:01:57-05:00

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The first two official spring games of the season have not boring, capped off by something you probably won’t ever see again.

Every day when you go the ballpark, or in my case, turn on your computer/TV to watch the proceedings at the ballpark, there’s a chance you could see something you never thought you’d see in your lifetime.

And while spring training games don’t have the same weight as a regular season tilt, watching Maikel Franco hit an inside-the-park home run is a pretty hilarious and awesome thing, even in a fake game.

During the Phils’ walk-off 6-5 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday, Franco belted two dingers, the second of which was a bizarre inside-the parker that had to be seen to be believed.

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I’m excited about this game, about spring training, and about this season. Be excited with me, won’t you?

So for the first time this season... discuss the game in the comments below.




The Dirty Inning, Episode 5: Over a dozen Dodgers

2017-02-24T08:00:02-05:00

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On September 27, 1975, Steve Carlton departed a game and left the Phillies bullpen to pick up the pieces. Instead, they made more pieces.

In 1972, the Phillies called days when Steve Carlton would pitch "Win Day." The team was so bad, even they knew that Lefty was the only way they had a chance. Three years later, they were closer to finding their way, but not quite there yet. Carlton was still around, but against the Dodgers on September 27, 1975, even he left at some point, probably having gotten insatiably bored.

Things went to hell very fast, and all at once.




Let the (fake) games begin! Felske Files Episode 92

2017-02-23T19:14:35-05:00

On Episode 92 of The Felske Files, host John Stolnis talks to Phillies beat writer Stephen Gross about the latest news coming out of Clearwater as real live baseball games get under way! Also, SB Nation's Grant Brisbee joins the show to talk about the death of the intentional walk and other rules changes for 2017.

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Retiring MLB umpires each touched Phillies history

2017-02-23T08:05:30-05:00

Whether through huge events or screaming, the four retiring MLB umpires have been there the past few years when all eyes were on the Phillies. Surely, you and your friends haven't able to stop talking about it: Umpires Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce, and Tim Welke are all retiring prior to the 2017 season. If you're currently trying to remember why any of those names sound familiar, it's probably for one the following slots of Phillies history into which each man wedged himself. Bob Davidson: Ejected Phillies fan from game "You think I wanted to block his ass?! What the hell are you yelling at?!" --Umpire Bob Davidson to Charlie Manuel The relationship between a manager and an umpire is a special, coarse, profanity-laced affair in which both parties are seen chuckling and having a good time together or absolutely having meltdowns basically on top of each other. Bob Davidson never seemed too angsty about cultivating the former in Philadelphia. Here's a video of a May 18, 2012 confrontation between Bob Davidson and Charlie Manuel over Davidson not getting out of the way of a play that would end in both men being suspended for one game. It was a stunning reminder that apparently, when the right planets are in the right spots, umpires are held accountable for their actions. Davidson, for his poor reaction, was said to have committed "repeated violations of the Office of the Commissioner's standards for situation handling." One night in umpire jail seems to have really calmed him down. Through suspension-worthy antics, Bob Davidson, in addition to calling balks indiscriminately into the crowd (He was once part of a crew that called Cole Hamels for two in one game), was not afraid to go after coaches or players. And that was how we lived for a while; a disappointed eye roll hearing him announced before the game, and hoping that he didn't get in a mood and eject your favorite player. But then one day, he went after the fans. One of them, anyway. Who he said was screaming obscenities. So. Living out a Phillies fan's ultimate purpose, to give the umpire such a hard time that he throws you out of the game, is a special experience. Not everyone gets to experience it, but when it happens, that fan is revered in his community for years. Neighbors utter his name over the fence and bus commuters smile as they pass his statues. This time it was weird, though; the guy was just shamed and forgotten. Huh. Bob Davidson stopped in the middle of an at-bat on August 2, 2016 to fulfill every umpire's ultimate purpose, to eject a fan and discover their true powers. Think about it: Umpires could eject the entire stadium before the first pitch and play the game in total silence. They would be our new gods. Our only defense is that they remain ignorant of the power they wield. Fortunately, Davidson wasn't feeling more than the one ejection, being of a guy he said was shouting "sexual innuendo" and telling Giants players they "suck." "That's when I turned around and said ‘You know what, get rid of this guy.' You could have your wife, girlfriend, kids - they buy tickets," Davidson said. "They don't have to come here and listen to that." "And people cheered me. Which is unusual in this town for me," Davidson said. The heckler, a Delaware County resident who, by his own account, was telling Giants players that they "suck," (and wasn't wrong) also claimed he told a Giants player to get a haircut and "that was basically it." He said he wasn't drunk. We may never know the real story. That's probably fine. Nevertheless! Bob Davidson wasn't afraid to make an enemy in Philadelphia, whether in the stands or in the dugout. May baseball scientists one day discover the secret behind his penchant for balk calls. Tim Welke: Postponed first World Series game in history The Phillies were in the World Series, and the city, rich with autumn colors in late October 2008, was jubilant. But this was a course of events the unive[...]



Breakout Potential: Rise of the HS Pitcher

2017-02-22T15:22:34-05:00

Gowdy, Anderson, Falter, and Viza lead next wave The Phillies farm system has received mixed reviews this offseason. It has gotten positive reviews for its major league ready hitting and pitching. The development of Latin American pitching prospects has provided a lot of excitement and reason for optimism. One area that has been a black hole for the Phillies for the last few years has been homegrown high school pitchers. On some level pitchers are pitchers regardless of where they were signed from. However, high school pitchers represent untapped potential that is not available in college arms. This of course comes with more risk. The Phillies once had a bevy of high school pitching prospects with the “Baby Aces” of Trevor May, Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Pettibone, and Brody Colvin. Pettibone represents the last homegrown high school arm to make the majors for the Phillies and Trevor May now represents that group’s only real hope for major league success for any team. The Phillies spent high picks on high school pitchers in the 2010 and 2012 drafts, with no success. This led to the darkest point in this development process when on May 12, 2016 the Phillies released one of those players in supplemental 1st round pick Mitch Gueller. Here was the Phillies system at the time. Player (round) - no longer in org injured 2010: Jesse Biddle (1), Kevin Walter (20), Jonathan Musser (21)2011: Yacksel Rios (12), Braden Shull (27)2012: Shane Watson (1s), Mitch Gueller (1s), Ricky Bielski (14), Drew Anderson (21)2013: Denton Keys (11), Tyler Viza (32)2014: Sam McWilliams (8)2015: Bailey Falter (5), Will Stewart (20), Nick Fanti (31) I don’t really want to dwell on past failures in drafting and development, what I really want to talk about is what happened from this point forward. In the 2016 draft the Phillies added Kevin Gowdy (2), Justin Miller (12), Andrew Brown (13), and Kyle Young (22). That wasn’t the biggest difference as much as for the first time in a long time, the Phillies had some high school arms take a step forward and put themselves on the map as potentially the core of the next waves of Phillies prospects. The Big Money Signing Signing Mickey Moniak to an under slot deal with the first overall pick of the draft allowed the Phillies to give Kevin Gowdy a top 10 signing bonus after taking him in the 2nd round. Gowdy was not a top 10 prospect, but his combination of stuff and projectability makes him potentially special. His fastball already sits in the low 90s and he has shown the ability to touch 95+. He mixes that with a potential plus slider and a promising changeup. He has enough polish and feel for pitching that he could move quickly as a backend starter. If he adds velocity and sharpens his off-speed stuff he could see his ceiling and stock rocket up. The Tommy John Survivor By the winter of 2013, Drew Anderson was already a success story. The 21st round pick was coming off a good year in Williamsport where his combination of polish and command had put him on the back end of some Phillies Top 30 lists. His fastball was 89-92 and he had a solid slider and some feel for a changeup. He hurt his elbow early in the 2014 season and after battling back and rehabbing it, he finally had to have Tommy John surgery in early 2015. He was back on the mound for Lakewood in May, taking the spot of the released Gueller and he was immediately better than he had been before. He powered through Lakewood before ending the season in Clearwater. His fastball was touching 94 early in the year, but was up to 97 by late in the season. His curveball was now his dominant off-speed pitch and flashing plus potential. Anderson still struggles with command (typical post TJ) and his changeup still needs work, but his added velocity and quick growth hints at a lot of future potential. He will start in Reading with an eye on a full healthy season. The Persistent One The Phillies handed overslot bo[...]